Civil Urbanism - 2002

Dutch post-war construction production does not have a tradition of 'bourgeois urbanism': urbanism based on the initiative of hundreds, thousands of individual citizens. There are indeed 'golden borders' with detached houses on large lots. But there are no real, extensive development plans. Reason for compiling a magazine with contemporary and historical examples. From home and abroad. Not as a blueprint. But as a value-free collection. The word 'bourgeois' has been given a negative connotation. The Dutch artistic elite started to use the word 'bourgeois' for narrow-minded spirits and 'the little people'. The magazine refers to the common notion of citizen, as an antonym for communities that are not freely accessible, such as families and institutions.

The urban expansions at the beginning of the last century were accompanied by some architectural criticism. The new construction of the Rotterdam Heemraadssingel was mocked as 'bourgeois tampering' and 'macaroni style'. Now those same private homes have been praised. The canal has been declared a protected cityscape.

The most famous example is undoubtedly the 17th century Amsterdam ring of canals. Not only as the true urban development bourgeois ideal, but also as a true private partnership. A building plot with building lines is the most important means of control.

In the Marlot middle class district of The Hague from the 1930s, private builders could choose from three architects with 'like-minded minds' prescribed by the municipality. This with the idea of obtaining a 'clean unit' and responding to the criticism of private construction. This district has become an important architectural reference for the Vinex neighbourhoods.

The owners of allotment garden complexes form together a voluntary collective. There are no regulations regarding colours, roof directions and inclinations of the houses. For an agreement on the houses, the members join the building committee with their drawings of their own association.

The magazine also documents the 'economy of the waiting walls' in Belgium, which can be traced back to the Belgian Housing Act of 1889. This law stimulated individual ownership at a time when the Netherlands was moving in the direction of collective housing construction. The magazine contains essays and contributions by Kees de Graaf, Jaap Evert Abrahamse, Victor Freijser, Han Meyer, Geert Reitsma, Evelien van Es, Arthur Wortmann, Erik Terlouw, Carel Weeber and Peter Dordregter.

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